Friday, March 27, 2009

Plan or Not to Plan

Part of living a well balanced healthy life is having plans and goals. I am very structured person, for the most part that is a good thing. I always make sure we have money in the bank and bills are all paid on time. We have the money ready for vacations and emergencies. But sometimes you can get caught up in not being flexible. That was one of the reasons my issues with my daughter were even more difficult.

I had it planned out exactly how we were going to be debt free in 3 years and it was a good workable plan. It just didn't include life's little surprises. Those surprises are going to happen so you have to keep any plans you make flexible in your mind. Life just doesn't allow for everything to go smoothly all the time.

I have good friends that were slapped hard by this economy and never saw it coming. I'm sure some of them are having a hard time with how their plans have had to change also. I know some had their retirement plans all laid out for 20 years up the road and everything changed virtually over night.

It's good to have plans and you have to have budgets and goals. But you have to be mentally ready for set backs. I have now set new goals that are much less ambitious but will still let me accomplish my goals in 4 years instead of three. I also had to look at prolonging some purchases that I'd planned on like iPhones when we renewed our cellular contracts. We don't need them, nice to have but those phones with wireless Internet would be a $400 upfront expense and $60 more a month, nice to have but not necessary.

Now that I've restructured my plans to include dealing with our future addition to the family and come to grips with all the other aspects of it I'm sorta back to normal again. I'm prepared for the road to be a little rocky but hoping it's going to go smoothly. We are making some good workable plans there to. I hope that dispute the rocky path that this will bring our family closer together. This day and age it's difficult to have everything the way you want it but there's nothing wrong with shooting for that anyway.

As the saying goes, "It's ok to shoot for the moon because if you miss you still land among the stars".

Thanks for reading.

Happy Panda

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Stormy Walk

I met another race walker at the park this morning for a brisk 10K walk. Weather made it extra interesting. Stormy, on and off rain with wind gusts. First 2 miles was into the wind so it was like doing weight training bucking the wind. We got through it soaked but had a good time and a really good workout. Adverse conditions can make a training walk a memorable event.

I'm going to try to get outside more this year in the heat, rain, high winds and any other conditions that I would previously let keep me inside. I've done walks and runs in the cold, heat, rain and other such, but never regularly. Some of my most memorable walks and runs have been in weird conditions. Once when I was stationed in Las Vegas, I went for an afternoon run in the desert. About 5 miles into it a sand storm came up with gusts, I discovered later, of 80 mph. By the time I got back I was bright red from the sand abrasions on my skin.

In Okinawa I often ran when we had typhoons hitting the island. A typhoon in a Hurricane in the Pacific and a hurricane is a storm in the Atlantic. I remember being entertained with all the stuff flying around. Not the smartest thing I ever did since I could have been struck by something but very interesting running just the same.

The picture of me in the black and silver track suit was taken at the coldest race I ever did. It was a December Jingle Bell race, bells on our shoes. The temp was 17 below. I was wearing a long sleeve tech shirt and a thick wool sweater under the track jacket. That really wasn't bad since I was sweating during the race but after the race was over and I started cooling down, with my clothes wet with sweat, I started shivering pretty quickly. A trip to the car to sit with the heater on fixed the shivers and I came away with a great memory.

My favorite adverse condition it heat. I love a really hot humid race, I do well in those conditions so I look at that as my asset during a race. Since I have a health club with a pool, if I'm walking from there, I promise myself a dip in the pool if I do well and don't let the heat get to me. I have discovered that just being hot is not the same as being warmed up.

Thanks for reading

Walking Panda

Monday, March 23, 2009

Panda Rising

I have been in a fog for the last couple of weeks after finding out my 22 year old unmarried, and unemployed daughter, who is living with her boyfriend, is pregnant. Well we spent the day with a uHaul truck moving some of our older furniture to their empty apartment. The day went good and I came away thinking they might just make a go of it after all. The negative thoughts have been pressing on me for a while. But after we actually faced each other and talked, which I had not been ready to do, it wasn't as bad as I had built it to be.

Granted I'm still not happy with the way things are but I'm feeling like they are going to give a good effort, that's what had been worrying me. My daughter has had no ambition and no desire to better herself even though she had the opportunity for collage or vocational school after high school. Being a hard charger and I think a hard worker, her attitude was a source of constant conflict with her and I. Just getting her to take the trash out of her room was a battle.

Well the boy is working 2 jobs to try and support them and has a drive to succeed, even though he is from poor background he seems to have a good shot if the economy will cooperate a little bit. If they do get married I think I can bond with him, I would certainly help both of them.

After today I think I can start healing the depression I had sunk into. I had convinced myself that the world would stop turning, my world anyway. Amazing how you can build a hell with a couple of weeks of negative thinking. It will still be a rocky road but not nearly as bad as I had thought. So it's time to climb out of my hole and start finding the joy in living again.

I did have to cancel the Oct Disney trip since she is due on Oct 2nd and can deliver a week or two either side. That upset me to till I realized that was selfish and narrow minded thinking. There will be lots more trips to see the mouse.

Thank you for reading.

Happier Panda

Friday, March 20, 2009

Letter to the President

I sent an email to President Obama this morning. I didn't vote for him but I'm an American and he is our leader and the current decision maker so I wanted to give him some suggestions that I had. I will probably never get an answer but I feel like I need to try and be a voice of concern.

I suggested that he appeal to the American people to buy U.S. Savings Bonds. That's how we paid the bills for WWI and WWII. I would much rather see the American people hold the mortgage on our nation than the Chinese or the Saudi Royal Family. We can do this our selves without the nations that really don't like us all that well.

I also mentioned that the car companies would do a lot better if they would take a lesson from the computer and cell phone industries. Those companies come out with new and better products every year so people will want them. The cars you buy today are not alot different from the ones we had 20 years ago, so the want is not there. Look our well Apple does with the iPhone. If they came out with really new stuff every year then people would buy them.

In addition I made a plug for how much better off we would all be with more exercise and made some suggestions as to how to make that happen. He has a super asset in Oprah, if she promoted fitness walking along with Michelle Obama they could reach a lot of women. We all know it's our women that will be the movers and shakers of our future.

Thanks for reading.

Patriot Panda

Monday, March 16, 2009

Life and Times

I have been slack on posting here the last week. I've had some family issues and some motivation problems. We had a few days of nice spring weather and then the bottom fell out, we had the biggest snow of the last 10 years and then pouring rain everyday. That alone can take a toll on you. Add to that your grown child being just world class stupid and you have an interesting week.

Finally got back to the gym this morning and even though it was raining out I had a great workout on the treadmill. Tried one of my new ideas today and it went pretty well. What I did was to warm up for 3 miles and then do quarters starting with the speed at 7 mph and ending the quarter at 5 mph. I did 2 miles of that and loved it. Putting the speed at 7 mph, 8:34 mpm, makes you get your feet moving to keep up. After that pace the 5 mph, 12 mpm, felt like plodding along. That is the fastest pace I have walked and my target for this year. I want to do a full mile at that pace.

Followed that up with an hour of house work so that gave me a chance to keep moving so I wouldn't stiffen up from going faster than normal. I'm feeling it now though. I felt rewarded when after I was all done the sun finally came out. It's forecasted to stay that way so I should be able to play outside tomorrow. One day soon I need to start the speed intervals outside since they feel much different form the treadmill. The treadmill you just hang on but when you are on pavement you have to generate the speed.

Thanks for reading.

Training Panda

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chuck Norris' Birthday

A truth that I live by is the theme of the Senior Olympics, "Age is only a limit you put on yourself". One of people who is living that truth is Chuck Norris, he turns 69 today. He works out regularly and still has the moves despite closing in on 70. One of our local race walkers is 72 and if he is having a good day he is hard to beat. He is affected more by the really hot humid days than he used to be but he will still beat me if I don't give it my best.

When you are over 40 to some extent and especially when you are over 60 your fast twitch muscles will be harder to keep fit than your slow twitch muscles. Fast twitch is the speed muscles and slow twitch are the go long or endurance muscles. That means that as you get older you can't neglect the speed work.

The best way to keep all your walking/running muscles toned and balanced is the old school Fartlak training. That means add some bursts of faster walking/running into your regular miles. There are many ways to do this. It's always best to do your first mile slower to warm up good. Then when you are nice and warmed up start adding some faster speed. One way is to accelerate from one light pole to the next then slow back to normal till the next pole and speed up again to the next. Keep doing that as you still feel comfortable but when you start tiring out go back to your normal speed for the remainder of your workout.

My personal favorite way to train is do the first mile slow and comfortable to warm up and then do each mile a little faster. If I don't know the route I speed up a little every 15 min. Then the last mile I'll go faster but at a pace I can hold for the whole mile. Then I'll walk about a 100m to cool down rather than just stop all at once.

One of my race walking friends does track workouts where she will go fast on the turns and slower on the straight sections of the track. Or you can do fast laps alternating with slower laps. The main thing is to give both types of muscles a workout.

After a hard workout it's a good idea to drink a sports drink for the trace minerals and salt you have used up during your workout and a little food. There are a lot of packaged nutrition bars out there but you have to read the label to see what you are getting, some are so calorie dense that they are called meal replacement bars. A good choice is a banana or a bagel. I have started using my new mix of grape tomatoes, mushrooms, black olives and walnuts. I put together some snacks of those in sandwich bags and eat them when I'm feeling hungry between meals also.

Thanks for reading.

Speed training Panda

Monday, March 9, 2009

Spring Slimming

I woke up this morning with renewed motivation to get the weight off I've put on this winter. I've been working out and eating healthy, just eating to much. This happens to me in the winter I feel starved all the time and generally put on a dew pounds. I currently weigh 174.2, for my height 5'10" that's not to bad but I race better at 160, so today starts a new mission for power panda; lose the 14.2 lbs.

Losing weight for me has to be a mind set that I stay in 24/7. I tend to feel starved in the winter time, I guess it's from being cooped up inside. I eat healthy but even eating a proper diet doesn't help if you feel like a starved shark all the time.

I will of course continue to eat a good breakfast, whole grain cereal, banana and skim milk, coffee and a vitamin. That is the only part of my eating day that will not change. The problem has been portion size. One of the voices of the past Jack Lalanne, I hope I spelled his name right, would eat one meal a day made up of sliced fresh veggies. He is still a workout machine and going on 90. He is the guy that celebrated his 65th birthday by towing a chain of 65 row boats for a mile, not the easiest way to swim a mile.

I'm also of course increasing both the duration and the intensity of my workouts. A couple of days each week I'll be doing doubles and everyday I'm going to do more motion and less sitting on my butt typing on this laptop. I'll still keep up the blog and working with friends preparing for their first marathon but cutting down on the chit chat.

Time to practice what I preach and get my own house in order here. As we used to say in the military, "You can talk the talk but can you walk the walk.

Thanks for reading.

Power Panda

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Savings Skills

Good morning budget concious buds.

One of the few positive things about the current financial situation we are in is that people are going to relean the skill of putting a little away for the future. Most of us have learned to live right on the edge of financial disaster. I'm determined to get out of debt as soon as I possibley can. It scares me that we can't live on just one of our incomes.

We have started doing some little things to both get in the habit of holding onto our money and to have trip money without having to stray from our journey to get out of debt.Erica bought a couple of those big Coke bottle banks at Disney and every day out pocket change goes in. We carry the pennies with us so we just get the silver change back when we buy something.

Every week I put a $20 bill in an envelope for 'Trip Cash' then when we get ready to take off on a trip we already have the cash and don't have to hit the ATM before we leave. The checking account doesn't take the hit either. Like having extra money so doesn't hurt the budget.I put a $100 into a savings account each week when we get paid. I transfer it to savings and look at it as though our pay check was $100 less and we don't have it to spend. This is the vacation fund but also the emergency fund for stuff like the fridge quit.

The ecomomy can hit any of us unexpectedly and we should start getting into a 'what if' mind set so we can plan for it. Right now nobody knows how safe their jobs are. Even if we don't get laid off there is still sickness or injury.

One of the ways that Erica and I have been saving for quite some time is getting water to drink at meals when we go to sit down or carry-out both. That soda that a lot of people get with a meal can add quite a bit to the eat out bill and isn't healthy like the ice water, with a lemon slice.

Thanks or reading and if you wanna share little saving ideas please do.

Thrifty Panda

Friday, March 6, 2009

Warm Weather Finally.

This morning I went to my health club and had planned on doing 3 miles on the treadmill, since it was 5am and to dark for walking on the streets, then doing sprints in the pool. Well normally the pool is pretty crowded at 5am but this morning it was deserted. So I decided to just do the pool since I could get the 5 foot deep lane that I prefer. I quickly changed before anyone else could get there and went over and jumped in. I immediately realized why there was no crowd, the normally heated to 82 degrees water was freezing. I found out after that they had to drain and refill and the pool hadn't had time to heat back up. I'm the worlds worse weather whuss but I was there and darn it I was going to try to get my workout in. After a couple of laps it was very standable and after a few more actually quite pleasent.

I have never done an ice bath but during the summer when the weather is beastly hot I often talk myself into holding a hard pace longer with the promise of the cool pool after I'm done. Even at 82 degrees it feels cool when it's 90s with high humidity outside. I treat myself to that after walk swim often in the hot summer.

Even though I had already worked out in the pool, after a couple of hours the day warmed to 67 degrees and I couldn't resist a walk. It was double interesting since we had brisk winds to go with the warm temperatures. I had to wear a long sleeve tech shirt since it was cool with the wind chill. When I just walk outside I usually do the first mile at a easy pace of 14 to 15 min to warm up and then increase the pace after I'm loose and sweating. Today the cruise pace was just below 12 mpm. I was good with that since I really didn't expect to have a lot of energy after the good pool workout. I plan on doing a lot of double workouts this year while training for the Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge.

On the way home from the walk I decided today should be a veggie day so I stopped on the way home for fresh salad fixings. Ended up with a very good combination although a tad odd:

Fresh Spinach
Walnut halves
dried cranberries
fresh sliced mushrooms
black olives
shredded cheddar cheese
Topped with a few shots of Newman's Own Raspberry salad spray.

The salad and some baked potato and onion perogies mad a great low fat high energy dinner. I've been experimenting with making quick healthy meals like that. I do way to much processed "Healthy" dinners. Lots of things like soy burgers that I can heat in the micro wave and put on a bagel or a canned soup.

Thanks for reading.

Tired Panda

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Spring Dreaming

I think all of us have about had all the fun with winter that we can stand. I woke up this morning to 13 degrees and once again made it a treadmill workout. I can currently only dream about those long fast walks along the highway, warm sun shining on me, iPod cranked with upbeat tunes and my body wanting to just stay in motion forever. Or at least for five or six miles. I know that spring is coming but it can't get here soon enough.

I'm also really done with listening to the constant bad news about the economy. I'm just going to tune it out, I know it's there but I'm not going to dwell on it anymore. There isn't anything I can do about it so there is no reason to listen to the crap. I'm going back to filling my days with positive and let the negative run it's course without me. If I watch TV at all it's going to be happy and positive. Same with movies I watch, time for happy stuff with a message. I never cared for the reality shows either, since they dwell on emotional pain for others to a large extent.

I have a happy job, once in a while I get a patient that wants to be ugly for no real reason except that they just need to strike out at life in general but I don't let them steal my joy. With a happy job, and most jobs can be happy if you look at them with the right frame of mind, it's pretty easy to control the other parts of your life. When you decide you are not going to let the negative that's all around you affect you then you can make a lot of it stop. For instance I have a co worker that loves to gossip about other co workers, I just tell her I don't wanna listen to that, we can talk about other stuff but we aren't going to gossip about people.

With the coming spring, the time of rebirth for our planet, it's a good time to make some changes in your life. My changes this spring are going to be keep the positive and the beauty and just not have any time for the ugly and the negative. The world is gonna do just fine if I stop worrying about Iran having the bomb and the the bank executives getting bonuses with our tax money. One of the things I've often thought was odd was if being rich was so wonderful how come so many wealthy people are on rehab. I would rather be strong and healthy and live every day with a passion for life.

In order to live with a passion for and look forward to every day you have to make those days worth the trouble. As an athlete I have the chance to start every day with a good workout that makes the rest of the day easier to deal with because I feel like I've accomplished something. I can take personal pride in giving an honest effort, even if no one else knows. When I can go through the rest of my day with that warm glow it effects those around me. Happy is catching just like sad and feeling blue is catching.

Lets each of us make a committment to be happy and not get caught up in the ugly that we can't do anything about. Spring is a good time to start being happy.

Thanks for reading.

Positive Panda

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Walking Scared

As an Optician I work at the mall and my clientele is largely made up of people over 40. A lot of them come out to the mall to walk during the cold days of winter. I see a lot of much younger people going by the store and a good portion are overweight. Many are obese, but I never see them walking for exercise only strolling along, often with a phone stuck on their ear. I think this is because the older people are beginning to realize their own morality.

When you reach your forties or fifties and even more so in your sixties you see friends and relatives starting to die pretty regularly and it's hits you that you had better change your life style while you can. Although it's never to late to get some benefit from eating well and exercising, the younger you start the more benefit you are going to get.

There are no guarantees in life, we can never say with certainty that we will be alive and healthy tomorrow. But exercise and a healthy lifestyle is like saving for retirement. You put away money for many years and hope that you have saved enough to have a good life after retirement and not have to live on hotdog helper every day. The younger you are when you start saving the better off you will be. Same thing about the exercise and healthy living.

I have for the most part lived healthy with a few slips, each slip lasting from a few months to the longest lasting 7 years. After each slip it has taken time to get back to feeling strong and fit. But the times of healthy living are way more satisfying than the days of slipping into the depression that so many of us have experienced. That depression where you just blindly eat and drink and close your eyes and mind to what you are doing to your body and your future.

Maybe we just forget sometimes that it's up to each of us to do everything we can to get the most out of our one life. We forget that this life is not rehearsal but it's the show and if we blow it we are done. We have to keep our spirit strong and not let things going on around us cause us to stop believing in how important each of us are. Each of us are worth the effort and each drop of sweat spilled in exercise is cleansing our bodies of the years of neglect.

Thanks for reading.

Training Panda